Since I woke up this morning, there’s been this lyric from the song Nothing Better by the Postal Service bouncing around my head. If you don’t know this band, they are wonderful. I’ve long thought that this song is the best heartbreak love song I’ve ever heard. Mostly because it offers both sides of the story, which is refreshing.
Any way, the lyric:
Don’t you feed me lies about some idealistic future Your heart won’t heal right if you keep tearing out the sutures.
It’s the last part that has me — Your heart won’t heal right if you keep tearing out the sutures. Over and over again it has me.
Not because I’m heartbroken. Well, not in that way. Sure, I have been. Haven’t we all? No, it’s something else. Something bigger.
I’ve been feeling the pressures of this pandemic more acutely in the past month or so. I think my system had about 8 months in it before it started to fry. The ninth month was rougher. Heading into a new year with relief on the distant horizon brings up a deep well of pain and grief in me.
It’s important to name here: I’m blessed. Perhaps a better way to name it is that I’m privileged. I have a home. I have income. I have the resources that allow me to type this, to be on Zoom meetings, to connect with loved ones. To work from home. To stay safe and healthy. I get that. And, as I’m sure you’re aware, it’s hard.
This pandemic is taking a toll that is deeper and greater than we are fully capable of understanding right now. We are all going to be paying a price, but what that price is probably won’t fully reveal itself for some time. I was talking with a friend who is a therapist. She was saying that, beyond her practice being at capacity, she is fully expecting there to be a massive need for trauma therapy over the course of the next two to five years. We’re all in a massive trauma event.
We’ve lost so much. Weddings. Birthdays. Human lives. We’ve been barraged with numbers for months. Sometimes they gave us moments of seeming relief: the hospitalizations are down. Deaths are down. But that was short lived as it all rises again.
And here is the vaccine. Yes! We are almost there! But are we? Most of us stand near the back of the line. I doubt I’ll be eligible for it until June or July of next year. And even then, what’s next? I don’t think any of us knows.
The idea of another six months (nine months? twelve?) of few hugs, of hearing about more death, of not being able to see friends and family. It weighs on me.
My heart keeps breaking.
The thing about grief is that it’s not a single event. It’s a process. I’ve heard Francis Weller describe it as a practice.
To be alive is to have your heart broken. Again and again. This can be a weight we carry, or it can be something that connects us to greater and deeper truths.
Sure, we can try to ignore it. We can paper over it with false1 positivity. This is a common practice, especially here in the US where “It is what it is” has become kind of code for, “let’s stop talking about this before it becomes too painful to bear.” Or we can numb it. That’s another popular approach. Alcohol, drugs, TV, Instagram. There are plenty of ways for us to numb.
Or we can be with the heartbreak. Which means to grieve. That’s harder.
Your heart won’t heal right if you keep tearing out the sutures.
Grieving is about healing. It’s about letting our (emotional) bodies do what they do best, process, heal, revive. We can be rejuvenated in a grieving process — but only if we give ourselves to it.
There’s so much to say here. And perhaps one day soon I’ll say more of it. For now, as we inch closer to the darkest, shortest day of the year, I feel my entire being pulled toward that grief. Toward the depths of longing in my soul.
Toward another layer of healing.
To heal right.
Some might say toxic.↩